Rainy Days at Disneylandby Megan Walker, contributing writer
I'm from Portland, Oregon, so trust me when I say: I know rain. Where I live, the weather isn't an excuse to stay inside and watch Netflix all day, if you don't go out when it's raining, you'd rarely go out. So, when I visit the Disneyland Resort, and it rains, I'm usually both surprised by the lack of crowds, and happy at the prospect of a successful day in the parks.
If the forecast calls for a rainy day at Disneyland, you can generally expect lower crowds and, therefore, lower wait times. Most Annual Passholders (locals, mainly) won't waste their time in the rain when they have hundreds of other sunny days to enjoy the parks, and tourists will sometimes use the chance to enjoy other areas of the resort or around Southern California where they can stay dry.
If you are ready to brave the rain, it is still possible to have a fun day at Disneyland.
What to Wear
If you're someone like me, from a colder state than California, you'll probably be comfortable wearing shorts in a 65-70 degree rainy day. If you're a native Californian, or from a warmer state, you might prefer to be bundled up. Whatever you will be most comfortable in for a rainy day is what will be perfect for you. You're probably wondering: OK but how do I keep myself dry? It's easy–forget any fashion sense you might have and give in to the glorious invention that is the poncho. If the weather forecast calls for rain during your trip, go to the Dollar Store or your local market and pick up a cheap poncho. They might not be the most stylish item you can find, but it will get the job done. If you forget one, stores throughout the resort do carry ponchos and umbrellas (when it rains, they tend to be positioned closer to the doors). You also might want to bring an extra pair of dry socks, because there is nothing worse than squishing around in your shoes all day.
No poncho needed when you're under cover at the Mickey and the Magical Map show in Fantasyland. Photo by Megan Walker.
What to Do
The crowds will be small, the wait times will be low, you can do whatever you want. Some of the attractions with outside track systems will close in the rain for safety concerns, but there are a lot of other options. If you get tired of walking around in the rain however, there is plenty to enjoy under cover as well. Go watch some of the classic Mickey Mouse shorts in the Main Street Cinema, explore the galaxy in Star Wars Launch Bay, pretend you're in the tropics for a while in The Enchanted Tiki Room, go see Mickey and the Magical Map, do some shopping, or find a nice spot under cover and people-watch. If you're across the way at Disney California Adventure, go see the new Frozen show at the Hyperion Theater; explore the Animation Building and watch the animated segments on the big screens in the lobby, learn how to draw your favorite character, or spend some time in Beast's library; or get in line at the new Soarin'. Bottom line, there are plenty of things to do, rain or shine.
The Galaxy is a dry haven at Star Wars Launch Bay. Photo by Megan Walker.
Throw Caution to the Wind
You're already wet so what's a little more water? If you usually avoid rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, or Grizzly River Rapids in order to avoid getting wet, now is the perfect chance to capitalize on all those missed opportunities. I rarely go on Splash Mountain anymore because I just don't enjoy soggy clothes while walking around Disneyland. However, in the rain, anything goes.
Spraying elephants on the Jungle Cruise aren't as scary when you're already wet from the rain. Photo by Megan Walker.
A Word of Warning
I will offer one bit of advice and that is to be very careful in the rain at Disneyland. I have seen many slip, slide, and fall in the rain on the variety of Disneyland pavements while trying to enjoy the park, which can absolutely ruin your day. So wear sensible shoes with a good grip, and just be careful.
At the end of the day, Disneyland is the "Happiest Place on Earth!" So when the weather changes, and the chance of a rainy day increases, don't be afraid to brave the elements. Just grab a Mickey umbrella and enjoy!
Go on a rainy day mid-week in mid-January and you will absolutely OWN the park. Walk on most attractions with little to no wait at all. My favorite time to go!!!!
Seeing as how we're Florida Annual Passholders and only get to Disneyland about once every two to three years, we don't have a lot of experience with rainfall in Southern California, but we've been at Disneyland on a really rainy night, and it was fantastic! When the really heavy rain started, we bought ponchos while everyone else was clearing out of the park. This was at about 7:00 p.m. The whole family had a blast. We got a locker to put all our stuff in, and we just wandered the park in our ponchos.
The best advice I can give is to ride the attractions that normally have the longest wait times. If there's still a crowd there, you'll at least by in the queue and out of the rain for a bit. However, we found that even the rides with normally very long lines were deserted. We had to wait maybe five minutes for Space Mountain, and when we were done, we did the big long walk around to the entrance and rode it again. When we were done that time, there was NO ONE in line, and they asked us if we wanted to ride again, so we never even got out of the vehicle.
In Florida, we rarely use ponchos because they tend to get too hot during much of the year, so I'm not sure ponchos are the best bet if the weather's really warm. An umbrella usually does the trick. The other thing we usually do in Florida is ride the "wet" rides on rainy days -- Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids (same s the Grizzly River Run in DCA). You're probably already wet, so why not just go all-in? You can always keep your poncho on for those rides if you don't want to get wetter.
I'm from Seattle, and rain and cool temperatures are something you get used to. Normal indoor and outdoor activities don't get changed that often on a year-round basis, and figuring out what to do on a very rainy day is pretty easy. But when vacationing in Disneyland, where there's a limited amount of time budgeted for attractions, dining, and shopping, rain can change your perspective pretty fast.
On one particular multi-day vacation, on our last day in the Park, we experienced very heavy rain for the first 4 hours or so. We did our best to duck under cover to avoid excess soaking, but after some time, while most of the attractions had cleared out, we happily enjoyed short, or non-existent queue lines. California Screamin' in the rain carries an extra face-peppering element...
One piece of advice I would give to vacationers who live outside of southern California is to not shy away from the weather, but embrace it as a saving grace to your vacation. The Park tends to loosen up when it rains. Both guests and cast members alike tend to share a few extra laughs and friendly gestures when the weather turns sour. It changes your perspective by reminding you that the Happiest Place on Earth is still the Happiest Place on Earth even when mother nature throws you a curveball. Your vacation isn't going to get ruined by some rain.
And besides, when you shrug off the rain and remain happy, others will follow, uplifting their spirits.
Rainy days are the best. This was 7 years ago, my son wasn't too happy when I took this but we had a great day. The park was pretty empty, no lines all day.
The only thing I'm not sure I agree with is the riding of Splash or GRR during the rain.
I'm not normally worried about getting too wet on Splash or even GRR (I'm not normally one who dons a poncho for riding in normal weather as you see some people do), but riding Splash on a rainy day in early January this year, I think the rain contributed in a heavy way (or it was a combination of that and a heavy log).
I didn't specifically take my poncho off, figuring like the author, "hey, I'm wet anyway", and I ended up with probably an actual gallon or more of water from the final drop in my lap, all captured with my poncho! There was no way to offload the water out of my lap that didn't result in dumping it all over myself.
Granted, this January when I was there was a case of El Nino, I believe, so it may have been the extreme case. I definitely think the added water from the rain made the ride more of a soaker.